➢ Kanchipuram is a pilgrimage city. A former Pallava capital (7th – 9th century), it is filled with temples dating from the 8th – 17th centuries.
➢ Ekambareshvara Temple, the largest in Kanchipuram, dates mostly from the 16th-17th centuries. The tall (60m, or 180 feet high) gopura, shown here, straddles the south entrance to the temple enclosure.
➢ It was erected in 1509 by king Krishnadeva Raya of Vijayanagara. The entrance leads to a large mandapa. North of the mandapa is a tank; west of the mandapa is the main shrine which contains the earth lingam. ➢ One among the “Pancha Bhoota Stalam” [five Shiva temples each representing five elements of life], Ekambareswarar Temple is one of the most sacred Shiva temples. It represents the element Earth. Shiva is worshipped as Ekambareswarar. ➢ The temple is thousands of years old with the current structure being a reconstructed one, around 600 AD by the Pallavas. However the temple displays the works of likely every dynasty that ruled Kanchipuram. The 172 feet Raja Gopuram is a marvelous piece of architectural wonder built by the Vijayanagara Empire. The Cholas made architectural contributions to the temple too. ➢ It has four gateway towers which are known as Gopurams. The tallest gateway towers happen to be the southern tower. It has 11 stories. Its height is 58.52 meters which makes it one of the tallest temple towers in India.
➢ There are numerous shrines in the temple, such as the Ekambareswarar and Nilathingal Thundam Perumal. These are the most prominent shrines in the temple. ➢ The other significant features of the temple include the “Aayiram Kaal Mandapam” or the 1000 pillared hall, 1008 Shiv Lingams that adorn the inner walls of the temple and the ten musical pillars at the inner corridor of the temple.
➢ Another architectural brilliance is that the sun rays falls directly on the Shiva linga every 19, 20 and 21 of the Panguni month (March-April) which is hen the most important festival of the Ekambareswarar Temple is celebrated, the Panguni Uthiram.
➢ The presiding deity here is Lord Shiva and is worshipped in the form of Prithvi Lingam. Interestingly, there is no separate shrine here for Parvati but a small temple for Lord Vishnu in the form of Vamana Murthy is located within the temple precincts.
➢ The mango tree where all this happened is still believed to exist in the temple and is believed to be 3,500 years old. A Shiva-Parvati shrine exists under this temple tree, which is known to bear four different tasting mango fruits to this day.